Religion, Liberalism, and Virtue

RELIGION, LIBERALISM, AND VIRTUE

HDS 2823

Professor M. Christian Green

Harvard Divinity School

Spring 2005

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:30 (plus hour to be arranged)

Pfeiffer Room (117), Andover Hall 

COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES

In the aftermath of the recent American presidential election, much speculation centered on the triumph of conservative “values voters” and the question of whether liberal politics and liberal religious traditions “get it” when it comes to morality and virtue.  This course will take up this challenge to the liberal tradition of religion and politics, serving as both an introduction to liberal strands of Western Christian philosophical, theological, political, and social thought and an invitation to those with some background in ethics to inquire into the role of religion and virtue in the liberal tradition.  In the past, while much has been written on liberal theories of justice and the good, less has been written on the religious underpinnings of liberalism and on liberal theories of virtue.  Indeed, liberalism has been widely characterized, or caricatured, as antithetical to religion and lacking a robust, normative conception of the good.  In this course, we will survey some of the classics of liberal political theory—Locke, Hume, Smith, Kant, Mill, and the early liberal feminists Astell and Wollstonecraft–to examine their liberal understandings of religion and virtue.   We will also examine some earlier antecedents of the liberal tradition in Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and, interestingly, Hobbes, along with the uniquely American perspectives of Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Dewey, and Murray for what these have to say about the role of religion and virtue in liberalism.  In the contemporary context, we will visit some of the debates around the now classic liberal theory of Rawls, including communitarian, feminist, and other critiques of liberalism, as well as some recent attempts at a revised understanding of the relationship of religion, liberalism, and virtue.  The primary objective of the course will be to retrieve these understandings of religion and virtue at the heart of the liberal tradition in a consideration, and possibly a reconstruction, of liberal religion and liberal politics today. 

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS 

Week 1—INTRODUCTION

February 3       Introduction

Week 2—PLATO

February 8       Plato, Meno, pp. 353-84

February 10                 Plato, Euthyphro, pp. 169-85.

Week 3—ARISTOTLE

February 15     Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, W.D. Ross trans., Bks. 1-3, pp. 308-73

February 17     Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, W.D. Ross trans, Bks. 4-5, pp. 374-423.

Week 4—THOMAS AQUINAS

February 22     Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 55-70 (esp. 55-56, 58, 61-66)

February 24     Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 1-7, 17-22, 23-33, 47, 57-62, 81, 123, 141

Week 5—HOBBES AND LOCKE

March 1           Thomas Hobbes

  • Leviathan, Pt. I, Ch. 1, 6, 8, 10-15, Pt. II, 17-18, 21, Pt. III, 32
  • The Elements of Law: Pt. II De Corpore Politico, Ch. 25-26, pp. 141-62.

 March 3           John Locke

  • Essay Concerning Human Understanding (excerpts)
  • The Reasonableness of Christianity (excerpts)
  • Some Thoughts Concerning Education (excerpts)    
  • Letter Concerning Toleration (excepts)

Week 6—EARLY LIBERAL FEMINISMAND THE SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT

March 8           Early Liberal Feminism

  • Mary Astell, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Pt. I, pp. 51-112
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ch. 1-2, 9.

March 10         Scottish Enlightenment

David Hume

  • A Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. III, Pt. I, Sect. 1-2; Bk. III, Pt. III, Sect. 1, 3
  • An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, § 1, 2, 5 (Pt. 2), and 9.

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

  • Pt. I, Sec. I, Ch. 1-2, 4-5 (pp. 9-16, 19-26)
  • Pt. I, Sec. I, Ch. 3-5 (pp. 50-51)
  • Pt. I, Sec. 3, Ch. 2, Par. 1
  • Pt. I, Sec. 3, Ch. 3 (pp. 61-66)
  • Pt. II, Sec. II. Ch. 1-3 (pp. 78-91)

Week 7—THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

March 15         The Americans

  • Thomas Jefferson, Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, pp. 255-56.
  • James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Establishments, pp. 257-63.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Reply to the Danbury Baptist Association, p. 163-64.

March 17         Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  • Vol. I, Pt. II, Ch. 9 (pp. 277-315)
  • Vol. II, Pt. I, Ch. 5-7 (pp. 442-51)
  • Vol. II, Pt. II, Ch. 4-5 (pp. 509-17)
  • Vol. II, Pt. II, Ch. 8-9 (pp. 525-30)
  • Vol. II, Pt. II, Ch. 15 (pp. 542-46)

Week 8—KANT AND MILL

March 22         Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, pp. 181-279.

March 24         John Stuart Mill, The Utility of Religion, pp. 69-122

SPRING RECESS (March 28-April 3)

Week 9—JOHN DEWEY AND JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY

April 5              John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (excerpts)

April 7             John Courtney Murray, Religious Liberty, Ch. 2 and 4.

Week 10—CONTEMPORARY LIBERALISM AND ITS CRITICS

April 12           John Rawls,  “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” 765-807.

April 14           Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, Chs. 1, 17.

Week 11—FEMINIST CRITICS AND DEFENDERS OF LIBERALISM

April 19           Feminist Critics

Elizabeth Fraser and Nicola Lacey, The Politics of Community: A Feminist Critique of the Liberal-Communitarian Debate, Ch. 2.

Jean Bethke Elshtain

  • “Antigone’s Daughters,” pp. 61-76
  • “Return to Hull House: Reflections on Jane Addams” and “Eleanor Roosevelt as Activist and Thinker: ‘The Lady’ and the Life of Duty,” pp. 3-12 and 24-41.         

April 21             Feminist Liberals

  • Susan Moller Okin, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?,” pp. 9-24.
  • Martha Nussbaum, “The Feminist Critique of Liberalism” and “Religion and Women’s Human Rights,” pp. pp. 55-117.
  • John Hardwig, “Should Women Think in Terms of Rights?” pp. 441-55.

 Week 12—GOODS, VIRTUES, AND RELIGIOUS VOICES

April 26           William Galston, Liberal Purposes, Chs. 1, 3, 8-10, 12.

April 28           Michael Perry, Under God, Chs. 1-3.

Week 13—LIBERAL RELIGION AND LIBERAL VIRTUES:  TAKING BACK THE LANGUAGE OF VALUES, MORALS, AND ETHICS

May 3  George Lakoff , Moral Politics, Ch. 5-7         

May 5  George Lakoff, Moral Politics, Ch. 9, 14, 17-18, 23.

TEXTS AND RESOURCES

Books Available for Purchase

Michael J. Perry, Under God: Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2004).

George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Books and Articles on Reserve

As you may surmise from the brief list above, the vast majority of texts for this class will be books and articles on reserve.  Given the breadth and amount of these texts, student photocopying is far more economical here than a coursepack.  Where texts are available online, you will see that I have noted this on the syllabus in the weeks where the readings occur.  I will post a complete list of the texts that we are using for the class with complete bibliographic information on translations, editions, and the like for those who may wish to procure these materials on their own.

While the amounts of material from many of the sources did not, in my view, justify my having the bookstore order them for purchase, it is possible that some of you may wish to own these volumes yourselves.  To that end, we will discuss during the opening weeks of the course, the possibility of the bookstore ordering some of the books for those who would like the convenience of purchasing them on campus.

Additional Resources on Reserve

This list includes some general items that have been especially useful in my formulation of this course and which you may wish to consult as background.

Peter Berkowitz, Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Diana Coole, Women in Political Theory (Sussex, England: Wheatsheaf Books, 1988).

R. Bruce Douglass, Gerald Mara, and Henry S. Richardson, eds., Liberalism and the Good (New York: Routledge, 1990).

Eldon J. Eisenach, Two Worlds of Liberalism: Religion and Politics in Hobbes, Locke, and Mill (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

Jean Bethke Elshtain, Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1981).

Elizabeth Fraser and Nicola Lacey, The Politics of Community: A Feminist Critique of the Liberal-Communitarian Debate (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).

James T. Kloppenberg, The Virtues of Liberalism (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998).

Susan Moller Okin, Women in Western Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).

Paul J. Weithman, ed.  Religion and Contemporary Liberalism (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997).

Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 55-70 (esp. 55-56, 58, 61-66)

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